I’m Mad As Hell, And I’m Not Going To Take This Anymore.

Mad is an understatement. Having pressed for answers, reasonable explanations and an understanding of how local government works I’ve come to a conclusion. It doesn’t. At least not in a way that most voters have hoped it would.

Let me share again former City Manager Tim O’Donnell’s favorite definition of leadership, “Leadership is disappointing your constituents in increments they can absorb.” That made me mad as hell the moment I heard it. Hearing that launched Brea Matters and kept me going every time a door was slammed in my face as I sought the truth.

How many times have you been disappointed by something Council has decided, that a Commission or Committee has recommended or that staff has suggested? How many times have you let it slide only to find yourself disappointed about something else just days or weeks later?

See, it works. They know it works. They know they’re able to bend a rule, break a law or violate an ethical standard with little or no concern that they might be held accountable. That makes me mad. It should make you mad as well.

Maintaining public records.

Recently, Planning Staff admitted to deleting documents, a consultant’s proposal that pointed out an error in Staff’s thinking. It wasn’t what they wanted to hear or felt the Planning Commission had a right to hear. The City Attorney said they were within their authority and the matter was swept under the rug.

When this loophole in the city’s Records Retention Schedule was pointed out by Brea Matters, members of Council demanded that the loophole be closed. Then another discovery was made.

The Records Retention Schedule, unchanged since the last millennium, was updated by the City Clerk last year and submitted to the City Attorney for review. It had sat there collecting dust until Council’s demand brought it to the top of the pile.

Still, nothing has been done. “Leadership is disappointing your constituents in increments they can absorb.” Dammit, I’m mad as hell.

Amending municipal code.

On September 28, Councilmember Vargas invoked an obscure, never before used, piece of the Brea Municipal Code and, without warning or prior notice, “fired” me from the Planning Commission (see details here). He citied causes not included in the municipal code.

Several months of haggling with the City Manager and City Attorney finally got me a face-to-face with the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem on January 9 where I laid out my “case” that Brea Municipal Code inadvertently violated my Constitutional due process rights.

I had no interest in litigation. None. Still don’t. All I hoped for was to help initiate a change in the BMC that would protect the Constitutional rights of my friends and neighbors who might one day consider volunteering for a Commission or Committee… that would protect them from the sort of incompetent conduct I was subjected to.

A month later I was informed by the City Manager that the City Attorney had been instructed to draft amendments to the BMC, eliminating the due process issues, and that the amendments would be given to Council to approve within the month. That was February, this is June.

On three subsequent occasions I was told that the amendments would be on the agenda in the next meeting or two. I fully expected to see the item on this week’s agenda. Nope. Nothing. “Leadership is disappointing your constituents in increments they can absorb.” Again, I’m mad as hell.

City Hall priorities.

On April 7 I published a blog headlined “Corruption’s Partner Is Our Own Indifference.” The admonition expressed was clearly made towards Brea Matters readers with the reminder that our continued indifference to what goes on in city hall is the catalyst from which corruption is born. The word corruption never again appears in the piece.

The City Attorney, I’ve been told, read that word and went ballistic.

Over the next six days, the City Attorney and staff conducted legal research, wrote an eight page memo to the City Manager, City Council and others (more like a manifesto obviously pointed directly at Brea Matters) and engaged the city’s Marketing Department to see that it was circulated on social media to the broadest extent possible.

Six days. Not six months… six days! They’ve been sitting on the Records Retention Schedule for almost nine months, on the BMC amendments for five months but they can somehow fire off a memo attacking Brea Matters in six days?

Who’s setting priorities down at city hall? “Leadership is disappointing your constituents in increments they can absorb.” I think I have every right to be mad as hell.

A call to action.

Council reads Brea Matters. Faithfully if not supportively. So I’ll take this opportunity to make a couple of suggestions.

Please, with all the authority you can muster, instruct the City Manager … once again, to tell the City Attorney to get off his ass (sorry Gramma). Obviously unable to determine which assignments should take precedence over others, it’s time to step in and retake control.

Please, take a look at how long it’s been since Council and the City Manager made any attempt to confirm that Richards, Watson, Gershon (RWG), and more specifically James Markman, are Brea’s best choice as City Attorney. Maybe it’s time we sent out an RFP for City Attorney to see if there might not be better choices for Brea.

Still mad as hell.

One more time, let me remind everyone. Leadership IS NOT disappointing your constituents in increments they can absorb. Here are a few thoughts that do a better job of defining leadership.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams

“Leadership: The capacity and will to rally people to a common purpose together with the character that inspires confidence and trust.” — Bernard Montgomery

“Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen, despite the obstacles.” — John Kotter

“Leadership is about service to others and a commitment to developing more servants as leaders. It involves co-creation of a commitment to a mission.” — Robert Greenleaf

What sort of leader do we want?

I believe we want leaders who create an inspiring vision of the future, who motivate and inspire us to engage with that vision and who have the skills to deliver that vision.

Write that down in big bold easy-to-read letters. Stick it on your fridge where you will see it every day. When election day rolls around again… remember it.

13 thoughts on “I’m Mad As Hell, And I’m Not Going To Take This Anymore.

  1. I support the fact that our current leadership at our city is suspect at best. I just learned that our city paid a consultant firm to do some work on the Central City Core Specific Plan and many of documents presented were outdated. The presentation was very plain vanilla and provided in my perception very little to indicate a good sound direction. Definitely not a $ 200,000 worth report.

    How do we come up with these firms any preselection?

    We need to put the right folks in place I think the city attorney is a good start,

    • Ken… I read the Central City Core Specific Plan this past weekend and it’s mostly gibberish and planning industry jargon. I’m going to do a references and plagiarism search next weekend. Hardly worth a quarter million dollars. I’m guessing that consultant selection is buried in cronyism with one hand washing the other.

  2. Sorry your Mad as Hell. I’ve seen this far too long and have come to the conclusion of why some people do such radical acts of violence. Not saying I condone these acts, just saying I can understand their passion. Right or wrong.

    We are just people expecting a fair days representation. All changed back in the 70’s and implemented in the 80’s. Workforce 2000. Both political parties endorse global economics and see where we are today. They used a strategic process called, “Manipulation Cooptation” It has been mastered well.

    • Don… If a growing number of us get mad enough maybe we can “clean sweep” the trash out again. Unfortunately, that still leaves the career bureaucrats with their bloated salaries that have mastered “Manipulation Cooptation” as you’ve noted. I hope folks Google that so we can raise the level of consciousness around here.

  3. As close to a pure definition of vendetta as I’ve ever seen. You must have rankled RGW good to get that sort of treatment. Pretty damned vindictive.

    That note is on my fridge.

  4. Watching the Comey hearing this morning, he invoked Henry II, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” For a moment I could hear the voice of James Markman.

    You do what you do well. Please keep up the good work.

  5. Little by little the people of Brea have been mislead and misinformed. Now that you’ve pointed it out I’m angry and ashamed that I was so easily duped. Mad as hell and I won’t let that happen any more! Most of those working in city hall, especially those in the corner offices, have lost my trust and confidence. It will be hard to win back.

    • Mark… If it’s any consolation, you are amongst a growing number of folks who have woken up to what’s been going on and will be keeping a more wary eye on city hall from now on. It’s “game over” for those who have played fast and loose with our trust.

  6. Dear Mr Blogger, Let’s start with the positive; Brea is lightyears better off without the last city manager, without two recently departed council members, and with the current council than we were only a few years ago.

    We are setting aside extra money for pensions, we have notified Republic Waste that their monopoly on our trash will be put to open bid at the soonest legal opportunity, we have stopped buying tens of millions of dollars of Cal Domestic water certificates, we’ve added a tremendous amount of high quality homes, and we seem to have more public awareness and involvement in local government than ever before.

    That being said, we still have so much work to do. We have power hungry individuals licking their chops to get on the council and undermine the progress we have made. We can’t let lobbyists run Brea. We can’t let people that had anything to do with handing a $150,000,000 school legacy asset to Hines for pennies on the dollar ever near our precious city assets.

    Keep up the great work, and stay mad!

    Dwight Manley

    • Dwight… Yes, in the midst of turmoil with every act of bureaucratic incompetence followed by another, there have been the occasional, and notable successes. You’re right to point some of them out and they serve as a good reminder of what can be accomplished when good people do good work.

      I am heartened by the awakening I’ve seen in the Brea community since launching Brea Matters years ago. More of our friends and neighbors are stepping up, speaking out and are unwilling to settle for the status quo.

      As always… I appreciate the support.

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